Souren Dermentjian has worked on all sides of the camera. With experience as a camera operator, editor, producer, director and production manager, there’s not a side to television production that he hasn’t seen. It’s perhaps quite fitting then that Dermentjian’s job at Sheridan is to support students enrolled in the Bachelor of Film and Television program – a new degree that strives to prepare people for just about any role in the business of content creation.
Some of his primary duties include maintaining the department’s television production facility and Sheridan’s internal TV network as well as teaching students how to use the equipment. “During the first seven weeks of term, I instruct students on how to operate everything in the television studio,” says Dermentjian. “Film and television are hands-on industries. Students can’t possibly start to work on their studio productions until they fully understand how to operate equipment such as cameras, switcher and graphics.”
“My goal for them is to develop unconscious competence. It has to be intuitive” – Souren Dermentijian
In some cases, a big part of that job is helping students to overcome fear. “They might think that a certain piece of equipment is overly complicated. Really, it just comes down to practice and getting them to understand that it won’t explode if you touch the wrong button. My goal for them is to develop unconscious competence. It has to be intuitive.”
Other times, the opposite is true, with Dermentjian purposefully injecting a healthy dose of trepidation. His tactics include a lot of discussion about safety procedures and loud-crashing demonstrations to show what can happen to heavy equipment that isn’t secured properly. “The students know that I’m very picky and I think it helps them to keep a straighter line. A lot of our graduates end up working on film sets, where accidents can happen if they’re not careful. We want to make sure they don’t hurt themselves.”
Dermentjian also teaches a second-semester course in Multi-Camera Production, in which he challenges students to set up a “control-room-on-wheels” to cover an event on location as it unfolds. “In the past we’ve covered volleyball, roller derby and theatrical productions. As much as possible, I want them to experience the thrill and the fear of going live.”
“As much as possible, I want them to experience the thrill and fear of going live” – Souren Dermentijian
At the end of the day though, Dermentjian says it’s the people and the variety that have kept him at Sheridan for over a decade. “We all work together, complimenting each other’s strengths, and we’ve built a great atmosphere. The students also have a nice fire to them. They always keep me on my toes. I still get to be involved in television production, not only as a technologist but as an instructor and I get the opportunity to build and maintain our facilities and television network.” For a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades like Dermentjian, it’s the perfect place to keep his credits rolling.
Pictured at top of page: Sheridan technologist Souren Dermentjian. Photo by Sheridan Photography Technologist Owen Colborne.
Written by: Christine Szustaczek, Director of Communications and External Relations at Sheridan.